June 21, 2005

An All-Purpose What?

Since the two health care posts below took a few perhaps undeserved swipes at doctors, I should say that today's physicians are really quite excellent by historical standards. I've been reading Curtis Cate's new biography of Nietzsche, which had this gruesome little tidbit about Dr Joseph Wiel, one of the foremost "gastric" specialists in 19th century Germany:
After carefully examining Nietzsche's belly [dude had ulcers], he decided that his patient was suffering from 'chronic stomach catarrah.' The cure he prescribed involved an early morning use of cold-water-injecting clyster—that all-purpose instrument of anal torture which Moliere had so mercilessly lampooned in several of his comedies. Next, the amiable Dr Wiel prescribed a dietary regime of four small meals a day, almost exclusively composed of meat. They were preceded in the morning by some Carlsbad fruit salts and accompanied for the midday and evening meals by a glass of Bordeaux wine. And, as an ultimate refinement, the application to the earlobe of blood-sucking leetches!
Sad to say, it didn't work.
-- Brad Plumer 4:13 AM || ||